In Loeb v. Vantage Custom Classics, Inc., ESX-L-4762-20, the New Jersey Superior Court, Law Division, Essex County, was faced with the question of whether an employee who suffers an adverse employment action because of complaints he made to his employer about its failure to follow Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Orders designed to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus can sue as a whistleblower under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The Court answered this question in the affirmative.
On March 9, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order No. 103, declaring a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 16, 2020, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 104 implementing aggressive social distancing measures to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey. On March 21, 2020, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 107 directing all residents employed in nonessential jobs to stay at home. Paragraph 10 of Executive Order 107 states that, “All businesses or non-profits in the State, whether closed or open to the public, must accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements.” And on April 8, 2020, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 122 incorporating all relevant Executive Orders in relation to pandemic COVID-19, Declaring;